Some fat presentation tips if you use Linux or Open Office
Recommendation 1: xrandr
At OSCON I had problems with getting my Ubuntu MacBook to talk to the overhead projects. Yes, MacBooks are notorious for this. At the excellent DZUG-Tagungs I had the same troubles, but time to look for a fix. (At PyCon everything worked fine though, so it’s only certain projectors).
Basically, the monitor configuration tool will present me with three screens if I connect the VGA dongle. One being the LCD screen, another the VGA and a third screen seems to be the DVI screen, even though I connect the VGA dongle. Crazy stuff. The problem is that whatever you do with the VGA screen, nothing actually happens. Resolution makes no difference, mirroring makes no difference. Pressing Apply will make the screen blink and you get asked if you want to save the settings, but the external monitor never turns on.
Aftersome serious Googling I found xrandr. This saved my life. Well, OK it didn’t, but it saved the presentation. xrandr does the same thing as the screen tool, but on the command like, and unlike it, it works. Possibly it’s way more stupid, and maybe doens’t ask the monitor if it can handle the resolution or something, it just sets it. Just typing xrandr will tell you what screens you have and the modes that they support.
I’ll give you a couple of handy typical settings. For other stuff, read the manual:
Single-screen presentation setting; Mirror the LCD and the VGA in 1024×768:
xrandr --output LVDS --mode 1024x768 --output VGA --mode 1024x768
Dual screen presentation; Separate screen for the LCD and the VGA, VGA to the right of the LCD:
xrandr --output LVDS --mode 1280x800 --output VGA --mode 1024x768 \ --right-of LVDS
As you see it’s pretty straight forward to use.
Recommendation 2: Presenter view plugin for Impress
Open Office Impress is not the worlds best presentation software. In many ways it’s pain in the ass, and I did a lightning talk at Pycon using the normal image viewer in fullscreen mode and just pictures I Googled. That was actually quite nice and much easier to do.
But that’s not always enough, and then you do need a presentation software, and for Linux the choices are limited. Now that I have discovered xrandr and know how to get separate screens in a reliable way when I’m at conferenses, I would like to have a separate presenter view, where you see not only the current slide, but the next slidem the notes and the time.
And whaddayounkow, there is one for Impress. Now, stupdly it’s not included, you need to download it as a separate plugin. Silly really. But it seems to work fine, and I’m totally using it for my next presentations. No more forgetting what the next slide is, no more looking at the clock worringly, no more forgetting to say stuff. It’s going to make me a better presenter!
So why did I tell you guys this? I should have kept the secret to myself, right? No, I shouldn’t, and with some luck I’ll tell you why not at the Plone conference!